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Costa Rica Will Become World's First Carbon-Free Country by 2021, New President Says


#1

Costa Rica Will Become World's First Carbon-Free Country by 2021, New President Says

Julia Conley, staff writer

In his first speech as Costa Rica's new president, Carlos Alvarado Quesada announced this week a plan to make the country the world's first carbon-free society in just a few short years.

Alvarado called the goal "titanic" but expressed confidence that the forward-thinking country could eliminate the use of fossil fuels in its transportation system by 2021.


#2

One of my friends lives in Costa Rica and loves it. I have never been there…yet!


#3

Kinda puts the United States of America to shame, doesn’t it?


#4

Its been a long time since the US had ANY “shame”.

The US’ best Congress money can buy likely considers Costa Rica’s rejection of fossil fuel as heresy and may need to start a war with Costa Rica to keep its corporate paymasters happy.


#5

A rare good news story. But why a photo of wind turbines when almost all of their electricity comes from hydro? Couldn’t they find a picture of a hydroelectric dam?


#6

Only loser, non-Exceptional countries want to breathe clean air and drink clean water.


#7

+Pony Boy Not at all, because youre comparing completely different scales of generation and consumption. The majority of all energy produced in Costa Rica comes from hydropower, but the USA’s hydropower generation is over 10 times as great as Costa Rica. The difference is we have over 200 million people spread across a very large country and demand the most amount of electricity of anyone on earth, so despite producing a large amount of renewable energy it still just makes up 6.5% of net generation instead of 70%.


#8

+PaulSwanee1. You are comparing a country that has set its mind to becoming carbon-free with a country whose movers and shakers have set their minds to continuing on the profitable to them path of using non-renewable energy resources. It would be interesting to see what America would accomplish if the minds controlling the levers of power decided to go carbon-free.

(yes, I know that those particular minds are extremely difficult for the hoi polloi to influence or replace).


#9

Good luck Costa Rica. Go for all you’ve got.


#10

Note: you can’t really be neutral on a moving train. The Arctic’s albedo is all changed and so it’s melting down. We can expect Eaarth’s atmosphere to naturally balloon to 1000 ppm CO2 equivalent of greenhouse gases, where most of the new gases are from Arctic frozen methane and other hydrocarbons accumulated over the past 100 million years. So, there’s only a bit of pride in one country hitting the “carbon-free” label. We have a collective job ahead of us.


#11

Not really, Costa Rica’s GDP is about the same as Maine’s, with 70% of it in services, most of the rest in agriculture. No real industry to speak of and 20% of the population live in poverty (real poverty, not American poverty). So yeah, pretty easy to go carbon free like that.


#12

I’ll believe it when I see it. Just how are they going to travel about? Electric vehicles are pretty expensive. No offense but cheap or at least affordable electric transportation especially without Govt. subsidies is pretty far off.


#13

Excellent point but the population is over 300 million.


#14

Wrong about who uses the most electricity per capita; wrong to use that as a figure without more explanation; wrong by implication because the US doesn’t use the most energy per capita, either, and wrong because you were either trying to imply something about GHG emissions or you left that out completely. Either one is bad. The US is 11th in electricity use per capita and 9th in energy use per capita.

Iceland is a perfect illustration of why it’s a mistake to use electricity in a discussion the way you do, and not talk about energy and emissions. It uses its cheap, rock-steady reliable geothermal and hydro to supply its own energy and makes aluminum as its biggest source of foreign exchange (much the same way the US Pacific northwest does with hydro). Iceland is virtually 100% powered by renewable energy (RE), and a lot of what’s direct use of fossil fuels in other countries (primary energy–transport, heating, industry) is electrified and uses waste heat in Iceland. It’s hooked into the Nordic grid which is 2/3 RE, 1/3 RE primary energy and increasing both rapidly. (Though not as fast as it needs to.) Norway too, is almost all hydro with some wind and has the highest (and growing) per capita EV use, as a direct result of climate policy. The Nordic grid is also rapidly increasing its already large offshore wind supply, spread through the North Sea area especially by Denmark.

Since a big part of renewablizing energy is electrification, countries that use a lot of renewable electricity are way ahead of others. EVs will take over the roads incredibly quickly even without government help, though of course we should be making it happen sooner through subsidies and education (and stopping fossil fuel subsidies).

There are 21 countries at or near 100% RE electricity and dropping prices on solar, wind and batteries, and the EV revolution will bring many of them near 100% energy very quickly.

Electricity use per capita
1 Iceland
2 Norway
3 Finland
4 Canada
5 Kuwait
6 Qatar
7 Sweden
8 United Arab Emirates
9 Bahrain
10 Luxembourg
11 United States

Energy use per capita

  1. Iceland
  2. Qatar
  3. Trinidad and Tobago
  4. Kuwait
  5. Brunei
  6. Luxembourg
  7. United Arab Emirates
  8. Canada
  9. United States

And the US has 326 million people, so while you’re technically correct and it is more than 200m, clearly once again you have no idea what you’re talking about and are just making things up.

The article didn’t say enough about the difference between electricity and primary energy, or talk about how different Costa Rica (and Nicaragua, inspired by Iceland) are from most countries. What’s usually primary energy is more integrated into the grid there so is easier to renewablize.


#15

Yeah. They’re poor and have no industry so it’s really easy for them to create a renewable energy industry. Sorry, that makes no sense at all. The US is where it’s easiest–the biggest economy in the world to quickly develop its fabulous and varied harmonizable renewable resources. It’s beyond the Saudi Arabia of RE with thousands of times the monetary and infrastructure resources of Saudi Arabia to develop RE. But arfs, anti-renewable fanatics led by the Koch-Exxon-ALEC et al campaign of denial, are determined to criticize, minimize, and ridicule whoever makes significant progress in switching to renewables. And lie about, of course, I’d hate to leave that out. The US has much to be ashamed about; this may turn out to be the worst thing of all.


#16

EVs are already cheaper over their lifetime than ICEVs, although they cost more up front than the average ICEV so shortsighted buyers aren’t buying them yet. Subsidies help offset the purchase price so a lot of people who couldn’t afford to save that much money can. Soon (probably within 2 or 3 years) EVs will be cheaper to buy and a LOT cheaper to run; at that point a lot of people will trade in their ICEVs in early to save money, and countries now pushing hard against the flow for 30 or 40% new vehicle purchases to be EVs will be getting 80 or 90% without any effort. But it depends on helping the industry prepare and ramp up now so they can supply all the vehicles wanted then. And it will bring lower prices sooner by having more companies in the field, faster development, and drop in prices because of mass production. The same thing Norway and Denmark did for wind and China did for solar panels and is now doing for EV buses.

Costa Rica saves money by spending on social services and actual good things instead of all the bads most countries waste their resources on–like armies and empires. It can well afford the considerable incentives it already provides for EVs and soon enough they won’t be needed. Right now various kinds of subsidies are needed to stimulate production of EVs, renewable energy, forestry and organic permaculture…

In the end, to do all we need to do in the very short time we have, we’ll need public EVs to provide the bulk of trips. A revitalized train system, including a state of the art high speed rail system in the US, connected to Canada and Central America, and hooking into commuter and freight hubs with light rail, EV buses and trucks, jitneys, etc. is needed.


#17

“You are comparing a country that has set its mind to becoming carbon-free with a country whose movers and shakers have set their minds to continuing on the profitable to them path of using non-renewable energy resources.”

You are grossly misrepresenting the USA with a statement such as this.

  1. The USA has significantly more CO2-free infrastructure than Costa Rica
  2. The USA spends significantly more R&D on CO2-free technologies than Costa Rica and in reality more than most countries on earth
  3. The USA has FAR more CO2-free technologies than Costa Rica and most countries on earth.

I encourage you to instead of reading about the Trump administrations daily activities, research projects from the US Department of Energy Sunshot Initiative, US Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, US Department of Energy Office of Electricity, US Department of Energy Office of Science, US Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, US Department of Energy ARPA-E Program and the National Science Foundation.

Transitioning a portfolio and grid similar to the scale of the USA to 100% Carbon-free electricity is a tremendous task, which takes significant planning and consideration both private and public. The current task of transitioning in the face of climate change is not a challenge that can be solved simply with political will.


#18

Where in my comment did I ever talk about electricity per capita? You are arguing about a point that is non-existent in my entire comment. Please take the time to actually read what I say in the future.

The objective of my comment was to compare the scale of hydropower infrastructure and net generation per electricity source between the USA and Costa Rica. It is false to compare generation by source for Costa Rica to the USA, given the fact that the USA actually generates a significant magnitude of hydro greater than Costa Rica, despite having just 6.5% of total electricity generation.

Your entire rant has nothing to do with the objectives of my comment.


#19

You: “You are grossly misrepresenting the USA with a statement such as this.
The USA has significantly more CO2-free infrastructure than Costa Rica”

You: “demand the most amount of electricity of anyone on earth”

Both statements are completely meaningless–or completely stupid–unless they’re about per capita use. Nearly meaningless anyway because to renewablize, we have to electrify, so it’s not about electricity it’s about energy if you’re only going to talk about one thing. They’re 80- 90% fungible, and what isn’t has to be in the next 7 years. Because you left out so many things your comment was simplistic and deceptive and I was trying to straighten out the readers that you so blithely and willfully led down the garden path.

Me, before: “The article didn’t say enough about the difference between electricity and primary energy, or talk about how different Costa Rica (and Nicaragua, inspired by Iceland) are from most countries. What’s usually primary energy is more integrated into the grid there so is easier to renewablize.”

You: " the USA actually generates a significant magnitude of hydro greater than Costa Rica, "

Of course if does. How could it not? It’s meaningless. The only meaningful figures that must be included in this discussion are per capita energy use, per capita emissions, and the percentage of each source in each country’s electricity and energy use. Once we understand those we can talk about the finer points, but since the whole discussion has left those out (except for my comments)
The only rants are yours, and I know that because I’ve read your comments. I’ll try to avoid that mistake in the future. You rant; I post information-packed comments. You’re welcome.

And PS. Anyone who repeatedly refers to the USA rather than the US is annoyingly and suspiciously jingoistic in my mind. That, in our current circumstances in which the US is by far the most evil and destructive nation in the world, strikes me as ludicrously ignorant and self-aggrandizing. Just, you know, FYI. You’re welcome.


#20

“Both statements are completely meaningless–or completely stupid–unless they’re about per capita use”
Per capita use has zero significance when you are talking about how much generation is required for a country (or the consumption). The average American’s use of electricity compared to other nations does not change the fact that our country still requires 4000 KWh of generation for consumption. The consumption per capita of Iceland or Qatar does not play any role in how much energy is consumed in the USA.

“Of course if does. How could it not? It’s meaningless. The only meaningful figures that must be included in this discussion are per capita energy use, per capita emissions, and the percentage of each source in each country’s electricity and energy use.”

Your mistake is that you think my initial comment was a response to the article- IT WASNT. Clearly you did not read the very first sentence of my comment: “+Pony Boy Not at all, because youre comparing completely different scales of generation and consumption.”

I was never responding to the article- I was arguing against the comment made by PonyBoy, which states “Kinda puts the United States of America to shame, doesn’t it?”. This is a misleading comment, because it under appreciates the scale of generation in the USA. Of course Costa Rica will have a higher generation of renewable per their portfolio, because they have better geographical conditions for hydropower in relation to their relatively low population. You cannot claim that Costa Rica is putting the USA to shame, when the USA produces a magnitude of 10 times more hydropower than Costa Rica. For Costa Rica to supply 70% of their electricity with hydropower it requires significantly less resources, time and money than for the USA to supply 70% of their electricity with hydropower. In fact the USA doesn’t even have enough water resources to generate enough energy to make up 70% of net generation, simply because the USA has a much higher consumption of electricity than Costa Rica. To compare the two countries by net generation of a specific source is a misleading comment, which was the entire point of my comment.

Notice what is missing from my argument?

  • Per capita use
  • arguments against the article

Now why do you not see these conditions in my comment? Because my comment has NOTHING TO DO WITH THESE…